Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has vowed to leave no stone unturned as he seeks to have the yellow card which will rule goalkeeper Mark Oxley out of the club’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final rescinded.
Oxley was booked by referee Stephen Finnie during the 2-1 win in Wednesday night’s quarter-final replay against Inverness Caledonian Thistle and, having picked up a yellow card in the victory over Hearts in the previous round, he will be hit by an automatic ban as will team-mate James Keatings, who was cautioned in both games against John Hughes’ team.
But Stubbs was left raging at Finnie’s decision to penalise Oxley for time-wasting, adamant his player had lost a contact lens and revealing fourth official Nick Walsh was fully aware of the situation. He is now demanding that common sense prevails to allow Oxley to face Dundee United at Hampden next month.
As the rules stand, Hibs can’t appeal the booking – although Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie had one for simulation overturned just last week – but Stubbs is preparing a strong defence to have Oxley’s case looked at again, insisting he had to replace the goalkeeper with debutant Otso Virtanen because the former Hull City man couldn’t see properly.
Revealing Oxley himself had been left bemused by his booking four minutes from the end of regulation time, Stubbs said: “There was confusion around the situation and I don’t really know what the ref has booked him for. If he’d been booked for feigning injury or simulation then it’s clear that wasn’t the case. He’s lost a contact lens and that, for me, is an injury. He was impaired and couldn’t see properly out of one eye – which is important for a goalkeeper and we had to bring him off.
“I think those are special circumstances. It’s not often you see a contact lens come out and Ox was worried as his vision was seriously impaired.”
Stubbs revealed he’ll be looking at Finnie’s report for his explanation before deciding what course of action to take but, he disclosed, he told Walsh who was “wired” to his fellow officials.
He said: “It seemed a strange booking. We will have to wait to see what the reports says. We will look at the footage and, if it’s a booking for time-wasting, how long it actually was between his blowing the whistle and when Ox kicked the ball.
“The crowd were getting vocal at the time and felt he was time-wasting, which he wasn’t. You don’t want that having an influence on anyone’s decision. I knew Mark had an issue from the touchline, an eye injury is like a head injury.
“We want to see exactly what he was booked for and that will determine our next step. We will look at all of these things and, if there is a case for us, and hopefully there is, we will look to see if we can appeal. If not we just have to get on with it. You look at some situations and hope that common sense would prevail.”
As for Walsh’s role in the incident, Stubbs said: “I did try to get a message to him, I always speak to them [fourth officials], but there is only one man in charge. Sometimes the fourth official is there to assist and not necessarily make decisions. Just because I say something to him doesn’t mean they have to relay what I saw. There is a switch in their pocket that can be put off so he doesn’t hear. I think it was off all night.”